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Madrassa Education to be Redefined

There are many public and community schools in the country but the “Ayesha girl’s madrassa” which is situated in Nepalgunj suffers from a host of problems including lack of physical infrastructure.

The students of nursery and upper kindergarten share an in room divided by a thin wooden partition, in third grade the students sit on crammed benches out on the hallway, next to a staircase to the roof and Students Fifth grade students take classes in an open room, at the far end of the corridor. As the students of grade six and seven sat for computer exams without ever having seen a computer in the school.

The school’s teachers and founders visit houses in their localities and in the villages around looking for girls who are out of school, they try to convince the parents of the importance of education for girls and to keep their daughters in school. Not all of the madrassas registered with district education conduct a yearly admission campaign. Most of them, though, help keep girls in school despite challenges of accommodating both madrassas and government curricula and lack of infrastructure and teachers.

As Muslim communities use madrassas as religious schools where they teach Urdu, Arabic and Islamic teachings. Apart from Banke a large number of madrassas are found in districts populated by Muslims like Rautahat, Kapilvastu and Morang. Experts believe that as more madrassas are brought into the mainstream, education opportunities for Muslim girls will improve. The pace of integration is slow, but the number of madrassas teaching the government curriculum is on the rise–from 689 in the fiscal year 2012-2013 to 735 last fiscal. Since 2006, the government has been wooing madrassas with cash incentives, an integrated curriculum and waivers such as on teachers’ licenses to get them registered.  “The more the madrassas that accept the national curriculum, the more the girls who are educated,” says Vidyanath Koirala, an education researcher who has extensively studied madrassas.

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